The biggest drawback to smoking cannabis every day is that you can start to develop tolerance over time, which both reduces the effects of the herb, and increases the amount that you need to smoke/vape/consume/etc each time.
Is there any way around this inevitable tolerance buildup? Or is there at least some sort of molecular trickery that we can play in order to maximize the effects of cannabis every time we consume it?
Well, there might be.
In this article, we talk about a few simple little tricks you can employ in order to try and minimize the tolerance you develop from consuming marijuana on a daily basis. If you’re a part-time smoker, don’t worry – you likely don’t have to worry about tolerance unless you’re inhaling on a daily basis for at least probably a month or so. If you’re a daily medical consumer, though, you might want to tune into this one.
Can’t I Just Quit Cannabis for a Week to Get Rid of My Tolerance?
Of course, going cold turkey and giving up cannabis entirely for a given amount of time is a decent enough way to break the effects of tolerance. Most people, even highly frequent users that smoke a gram or more of flower each day, will notice a substantial decrease in tolerance if they put the substance away for a week or so at a time.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
And what about medical users? They certainly rely on cannabis every single day of their lives for serious conditions like pain, anxiety, and depression, and thus can’t necessarily afford to quit cold turkey for extended periods of time, even if they wanted to.
So how is one supposed to be able to maintain a low tolerance and reap all of the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis, while still using the herb multiple times a day?
As it turns out, it appears the answer may come down to cannabinoid profiles and understanding how each unique strain affects you on a molecular level.
Once you have a basic understanding of this, you may be able to switch strains at opportune moments to affect the activity of your body’s internal cannabinoid receptors. Targeting key receptors and knowing when to swap out one strain for another may prove to be vital in terms of avoiding the dreaded inevitability of tolerance.
Understanding the Difference Between CBD and THC-Dominant Cannabis Strains
For all of the praise that CBD gets in terms of offering therapeutic health benefits, it pays to remember the fact that THC itself is no slouch in terms of its medical potential. In fact, both of the active cannabinoids are known to offer similar benefits in terms of pain relief, appetite, and cognitive function (anxiety, depression, etc).
That said, being able to routinely switch between THC-dominant and CBD-dominant cannabis strains may offer an opportunity to avoid developing a hefty marijuana tolerance. The reason behind this lies in the way that each cannabinoid interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
When THC enters the system, for example, the molecules interact primarily with CB-1 receptors in the central nervous system. These receptors are highly specific to the actual form and shape of THC, which binds itself to physical sites on the receptor’s surface in order to carry out its function. The only problem is that, after time, the endocannabinoid system becomes “ready” for the THC overload, and thus makes fewer of the CB-1 receptors available.
You see, as pleasurable as it may be to feel high, it’s actually not a “normal” situation for the body to be in.
Our bodies are always actively working to maintain a level of internal continuity (called homeostasis), so when we do things like overload the central nervous system with high levels of THC, what we’re actually doing is forcing the brain to take measures to reduce the compound’s psychoactive effects. In other words, as much as we enjoy being high, our central nervous system doesn’t – it registers the high as a deviance away from homeostasis, and it implements active measures in order to return back to homeostasis.
CBD works differently. Very differently, in fact. Instead of binding to physical sites on endocannabinoid receptors, it appears to work by both influencing receptor-independent pathways and stimulating the production and release of new endocannabinoids in the body.
To summarize, here’s a quick rundown of the functional differences between THC and CBD:
- THC works by binding to physical sites on receptor molecules in the central nervous system (CNS)
- When we take too much THC, the CNS responds by making fewer receptors available
- CBD works by stimulating the production of new endocannabinoids
As you can see, then, cannabis users may be able to swap between these two compounds in order to give the body’s ECS a physiological break and avoid developing a temporary tolerance to THC.
But how do you “swap” between THC and CBD, you might be wondering?
Well, if you live in state that offers either medical or recreational cannabis, you should be able to find quality CBD-dominant strains at a licensed dispensary. Since these strains are high in CBD and low in THC, they may allow the body’s ECS to produce more CB1 receptors both in the presence of CBD, and in the absence of THC. Then, when you switch back to a high-THC strain, the newfound abundance of receptors will (potentially) amplify the psychoactive effects – and medicinal benefits – that are felt.
Now, bear in mind there is no clinical data or scientific evidence available to back up this particular supposition. While swapping between high-CBD and high-THC strains may very well work to avoid the development of a THC tolerance, it is certainly not guaranteed to do so from a clinical sense.
How Do You Know When to Switch From THC to CBD-dominant strains?
The obvious question here is how to know when to switch from a THC-dominant strain to a CBD-dominant strain (or vice-versa). Or for that matter, how long to use each one.
Unfortunately, there aren’t really any definitive answers to either one of these questions. Cycling between THC and CBD can be a personal and individualistic process; it mandates an exquisite ability to listen to the body and be keen on the changes and effects that are taking place within.
For example, it may take one person four or six months to become tolerant to a certain THC-dominant strain, while it might take another person only two weeks to develop a tolerance to the same strain. This all comes down to individual biochemistry – we all respond differently to the use of substances, and we need to be able to listen to our bodies and respond to the changes that it’s asking for.
In a nutshell, though, you’ll want to try and detect the specific moment that you start becoming tolerant to a particular strain. As soon as you notice it taking more and more to produce the same effects, that’s the moment that you would want to switch to a CBD-dominant strain.
How Do I Know Whether My Weed is THC or CBD-Dominant?
This is a good question, and unless you are buying your cannabis from a dispensary that prints the cannabinoid profiles out, you probably won’t know.
If you do have access to a dispensary (either a medical or recreational one), it is typically easy to find and pick between THC and CBD-dominant cannabis strains. For instance, you can medicate with a THC-dominant variety like Sour Diesel, which has upwards of 20% THC and less than 1% CBD, and then switch to a CBD-dominant strain like ACDC, which can have up to 24% CBD and less than 1% of THC.
Of course, you certainly don’t have to make your switch this radical or drastic. Sometimes, just a small shift in cannabinoid dominance can be enough to alter your endocannabinoid biochemistry to the point that you lower tolerance.
For example, switching from something like a 17% THC/4% CBD strain to a 12% CBD/7% THC strain may provide great results. Again, it all comes down to your individual biochemistry and being able to listen to your body and respond accordingly. Naturally, this comes with a great deal of time, patience, and focus.
Lastly, it’s again important to remind readers that none of this should be taken as medical advice, or even as a general medical recommendation.
You need to keep in mind that the cannabis industry is still in its “medical infancy,” and thus there are almost no standardized guidelines with regard to dosing or cannabinoid profiling.
We recommend doing plenty of your own research, and always remember that not everyone will have the same experiences or effects with different types of cannabis strains. Speak with a physician or healthcare professional whenever possible, and if you live in a medical state, make sure that you get set up with an official MMJ card so you’re able to take full advantage of every new developing resource.